It would never happen to me. Right?
When you are young, 27 weeks pregnant, and have a 1 year old at home, you never think you might get diagnosed with Breast Cancer. However…
I had to start chemotherapy.
I was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2005, just before my 38th birthday. At the time, I was seven months pregnant with my second child, and my little girl had just turned one. Although worried about my baby, I had surgery while pregnant to remove the lump in my breast. It showed cancer around the margins so ultimately I would need another lumpectomy. First however, only 2 weeks after giving birth to my little boy, I started chemotherapy. Of the first four treatments, I ended up in the hospital three times, twice for a week; this with two little ones and a devastated husband at home. I was only able to tolerate 7 out of the 8 chemotherapy treatments, then my body couldn’t take any more. After a mammogram and MRI questioned cancer on the opposite breast too, I decided to do a bilateral mastectomy in hopes of finally getting rid of the cancer. All through this ordeal, my family was blessed with gracious support of extended family and friends, many of them spending the night to care for the kids so Mom and Dad could get much needed rest. While extremely grateful, I remember feeling very inadequate as a mom and wife, and very frustrated that my body had betrayed me. Thankfully, by the end of 2006, it appeared the battle was won.
It physically hurt to hug my children and husband.
But early in 2009, I started having pain in my chest. Fearing the cancer had returned and spread to my bones, I had a bone scan, but it came back negative. So I tried all kinds of body work such as acupuncture, chiropractic, massage, and more to help with my pain, but ultimately it was still there and getting worse. The worst part was that it hurt to hug my children and husband. After further scans, my fears came true, the breast cancer had returned. This time in the form of a tumor in and under my ribs and sternum. Once again I did chemotherapy followed by aggressive radiation treatment with my body rebelling every step of the way. My hope of these treatments eradicating the cancer were lost when the pain once again intensified to the point of requiring pain killers just so I could be a mom and care for my family. With a heavy heart I share that my recent PET scan confirms the cancer has not gone away in spite of the aggressive treatments. Instead, the tumor has grown and there are additional small nodules on my lungs. I am now considered to have Stage IV metastatic cancer.
I am now considered to have Stage IV metastatic cancer.
At this point, I do not fit into any western medicine “standard treatment.” Due to my “triple negative” type of breast cancer, trials are limited and at the moment there are no appropriate trials for me through major cancer treatment centers. So, I have researched what alternative treatments both within and outside the country might be of benefit. I have opted to seek treatment at a facility in Reno, Nevada with an oncologist that also incorporates hoemeopathic medicine. The medications and treatment regimens, while proven effective for many with Stage IV cancer, are still considered experimental in nature. What this means, among other things, is that they’re both very expensive and not covered by insurance.
To that end, my family and I are once again relying on extended family, friends, and any other supporters to help defray what will likely be extensive costs for non-covered treatment. Your help towards my recovery and ability to live a full life with my family is greatly appreciated.
Ways to Help:
1. Make a donation to the Stephanie Niessner Healing Fund set up specifically to help defray medical costs. You can mail your donation to:
Stephanie Niessner Healing Fund
P.O. Box 507
Arvada, CO 80003
Local supporters can also go to any 1stBank and let them know you would like to make a deposit to the Stephanie Niessner Healing Fund.
2. Offer your words of encouragement to Stephanie by signing our guestbook.
3. Attend our Silent Auction event on April 18, 2010 at 5:00pm. A band will play and you can receive a 10 minute chair massages for a $20 donation. Besides the food and drinks provided, there will be baked goods for sale. If you have any items to donate toward the fundraising efforts please contact my friend Christa at email@example.com. Address for Silent Auction:
St. Andrews Presbyterian
3700 Baseline Rd.
Boulder, CO 80303
4. Volunteer to help organize and plan the silent auction. Contact Lynda at firstname.lastname@example.org.
5. Make a contribution securely now via PayPal. Bank Account and Credit Card payments accepted.
Thank you and God bless!